The condiments at Lone Tree’s Chicago’s R-Dogs restaurant include ketchup, mustard and soy sauce — a clear indication this is not an ordinary Vienna beef sandwich shop. It just may be the first to offer customers a taste of the East along with the most American of foods.
But Joseph and Xin Pei Radford, who happily crossed cultures in their marriage, are applying that successful formula to their business.
The couple, who owns the restaurant at The Crest apartment complex on Park Meadows Drive, recently added a separate Chinese-food menu. The combination is peculiar only until the owners reveal their roots: Joseph is a Denver native, and Xin Pei was born in China.
While living in China, Xin Pei earned a degree in hotel/restaurant management, which sparked a dream to open her own Chinese restaurant. She met and married Joseph, who set about making her dream come true. The couple moved to Parker about two years ago.
“Originally, we were only going to do a Chinese place, but we found this opportunity,” Joseph said. “I asked her, ‘Would you be interested in doing something a little different’?”
Xin Pei was. But she didn’t set aside her original dream.
Two months ago, the Radfords debuted the Chinese menu with the name Asian Smiles. It’s kept separate from the Chicago’s R-Dogs menu, and since the sign outside the restaurant doesn’t yet advertise the addition, the option is a surprise for many customers.
“The clientele are coming here for that particular reason — the Chicago-style sandwich,” Joseph said. “If you’re coming in for a Chicago dog, you’re not thinking of Asian. Some of the customers at first raised an eyebrow, but most were receptive. I would say it’s been a positive experience for the customers.”
Often, Xin Pei said, “Children like the hot dogs. Parents like Asian. So they do a mixed order.”
For now, the two will stay distinct. But partially inspired by their dark-haired, cherubic 2-year-old daughter, they admit to pondering possibilities.
“We don’t want to alienate the Chicago customer or the Asian customer, but we’re trying to think if people would be receptive to mixing it up,” Joseph said.
Based on the success of sesame chicken, Xin Pei thinks customers might have a taste for sesame hot dog. Perhaps even sweet-and-sour or orange hot dog.
It’s an idea Joseph said may not bear the traditional fruit. “But it can bear fortune cookies,” he said.